Kellyanne Conway warns against Robert Mueller probe shutdown
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Sunday said it would be a mistake to try to shut down or curtail special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
She also said past comments from new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker expressing skepticism of the investigation don’t disqualify him from being able to oversee the Justice Department.
“It’s not even clear to me that Mr. Whitaker has been briefed on the Mueller investigation,” Ms. Conway said on “Fox News Sunday,” saying he has been chief of staff to a “recused” attorney general in Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who President Trump ousted last week.
In past TV appearances, Mr. Whitaker has said that there was no collusion between Mr. Trump and Russia, and that he could envision a scenario where the Mueller investigation gets curtailed through budget restrictions.
Ms. Conway said that would be a mistake.
“It would be a mistake to try to shut down the Mueller investigation in the way that you describe it because we’ve been so compliant,” she said. “If there’s proof of collusion, we’re waiting to look at the final report.”
“If you’re talking about Matt Whitaker’s statements as a private citizen a year and a half ago... I don’t think that disqualifies somebody from being the chief law enforcement officer at the Department of Justice, which is an executive function,” she said.
Top congressional Democrats on Sunday wrote a letter to Assistant Attorney General Lee J. Lofthus, the Department of Justice’s chief ethics official, asking him to notify them whether he has advised Mr. Whitaker to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
“Regrettably, Mr. Whitaker’s statements indicate a clear bias against the investigation that would cause a reasonable person to question his impartiality,” they wrote. “Allowing a vocal opponent of the investigation to oversee it will severely undermine public confidence in the Justice Department’s work on this critically important matter.”